Legislative Updates from the AACU

Congress guts the IPAB, then takes on its roleThe 2015 omnibus spending bill canceled a $10 million appropriation for the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Congress also approved a bill that cuts Medicare funding for vacuum erection systems. Rationing care, whether undertaken by the IPAB or Congress, must be opposed when it arbitrarily selects services based on public perception and not medical necessity, writes Ross E. Weber of the AACU.
Fight or flight: Why voicing your concerns is not enoughIn Urology Times’ ninth annual State of the Specialty survey, an astounding 87% of respondents perceived “increasing government regulations” with trepidation. Unfortunately, while nearly nine in ten urologists identify the problem, far fewer take steps to address it.
Pressure to expand Medicaid mounts, employer plans declineWhen provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) related to the expansion of Medicaid to low-income childless adults took effect in January 2014, 25 states and the District of Columbia had approved laws to broaden their programs' eligibility requirements. Since then, under pressure from various interests groups, including state hospital associations, lawmakers in at least three more states—Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—expanded their health care safety net programs and thereby gained access to federal dollars that would have otherwise been left on the table.
State Society conference: Vigilance in the political process essentialLeaders of state, national, and subspecialty urologic societies from around the country converged in Rosemont, IL in September for a weekend of health policy discussions and advocacy tips with public officials, policy experts, and fellow urologists. One of the themes reinforced at the 7th Annual State Society Network Advocacy Conference, hosted by the AACU, was the importance and impact of physician engagement in the political process.
States take novel steps to address work force shortageAs policymakers learn about the burgeoning bottleneck between medical school graduation and graduate medical education, a number of novel approaches to physician training have launched from Sacramento to Jefferson City to Tallahassee. Not surprisingly, many of these solutions pit providers against one another amid concerns about patient safety and the dilution of professional standards.
INFOGRAPHIC: How states are stepping in to fund physician trainingThis infographic depicts the efforts of several states to boost graduate medical education funding. Is your state among them?
Supreme Court case may impact state scope of practice lawsEarlier this spring, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case of North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, a case arising out of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners’ (NC Dentistry Board) attempt to enforce the state’s scope of practice laws against a group of non-dentists. While this case arises out of a dispute between North Carolina dentists and non-dentists, its outcome is being watched by state dental and medical boards throughout the country for its impact on their ability to regulate the practice of dentistry and medicine within their own states, particularly with respect to scope of practice.
ACA’s ‘grace period’ shows physician-led reform must be grassrootsProfessional organizations including the AACU empower individual urologists with resources that support grassroots engagement in vital campaigns to re-assert the physician's role in health reform.
States push independence for NPPs: A solution to work force crisis?Of the myriad proposed solutions to physician shortages, an expanded scope of practice for non-physician providers can be swiftly implemented by policymakers eager for a quick fix. Unfortunately, quick fixes usually involve shoddy workmanship and, as applied to the provision of health care, shoddy workmanship endangers patient safety.
SGR repeal and the 2014 Joint Advocacy Conference: Timing is everythingThe 2014 Urology Joint Advocacy Conference (JAC), co-sponsored by the American Association of Clinical Urologists and the American Urological Association, turned out to be an opportune time for urologists visiting Capitol Hill.